Obstacles to studying abroad

With a majority of Portland State’s student population relying on financial aid—72 percent as of fall 2017 according to PSU—studying abroad may not always be feasible.

While PSU frequently sponsors education abroad programs through third-parties—including the Council on International Education Exchange, American Institute for Foreign Study, ALBA and more—the cost of studying abroad can be out of students’ reach. A summer session through CIEE lasting from June–August can cost nearly $8,000, whereas one of its 18-week programs can cost over $20,000.

These longer excursions carry additional burdens such as paying rent in advance. A trip lasting months, paired with sizable costs—on top of an already costly university system, notably as tuition increases marginalizes those who can’t afford it.

When Ramona Kline embarked on a study abroad program to Kazakhstan with the Russian Flagship Program, an undergraduate initiative developed by the National Security Education Program, her choice of study was not fully funded. The Russian Flagship Program at PSU is one of only four in the country and students are required to study abroad.

In order to pay for the expense of studying abroad, Kline applied for the Boren Award, a governmental scholarship for those studying critical languages and underrepresented areas of the world. The award covered 80 percent of the cost with the remainder satisfied from student loans.

For students wanting to study abroad while in college, perhaps PSU’s International Faculty-Led Programs is a more financially sound option. International faculty-led programs are courses taught by PSU faculty for their students; no outside college campuses are included in any study. Additionally, students have the opportunity to assist in program development as non-instructional program leaders.

The excursions are known for their short time periods, some as short as one week. Students have their pick of over 25 of these programs annually, most of which run during summer but have fall and winter term availability as well. This means no long-term arrangements are needed for life back home and are consequently a much cheaper option. While programs can last up to 10 weeks, most programs last between two and three.

These programs are run by a single program leader working with a local partner to organize classroom spaces, transportation, guest lectures and more. Students are able to earn credits for up to three courses for a trip—depending on what is chosen—and may be funded by PSU travel grants along with other short-term scholarships, ranging anywhere from $500 to $1,000.

In 2018, the Education Abroad office awarded 43 scholarships to applicants of the short-term programs, as reported by the faculty-led program coordinator Hannah Fischer. For any student receiving financial aid or a Pell grant, the award can go almost entirely toward one of these study abroad programs. Information on how to apply financial aid packages toward studying abroad can be received at weekly Ed Abroad 101 sessions or on the Education Abroad office event page.

One of the most recent summer IFLP experiences was a seven-day intensive program to learn about community and disaster resilience through Japan’s earthquake and tsunami crises, journeying through the northeast region of Japan as they approached the issue. The program was led by Josh Metzler and included 10 students, whose experiences were featured in their presentation on Oct. 16 as part of the Initiative for Community and Disaster Resilience speaker series.

While this is suggestive of a feasible method to travel while studying and remaining financially sound, there is still the question of affordability in many programs as students seek an education abroad.

Resources for studying abroad:

Portland State Education Abroad Events:

  • Nov. 13–16: International Education Week
    • Nov. 13: Explore the Benefits & Challenges of Study Abroad as a Veteran
    • Nov. 14: Scholarships for Ed Abroad Workshop
    • Nov. 14: Financial Aid 101
    • Nov. 15: Burst Your Bubble with CIEE
    • Nov. 16: Marketing Your Study Abroad Experience
    • Nov. 16: Tales from Abroad: Meet USAC Alumni!
  • Nov. 19: Info Session: Costa Rica-Turrialba (Capstone: People, Culture and the Land)
  • Nov. 20: Boren Scholarship Information Session

PSU Education Abroad Scholarships:

  • Elizabeth Ducey Scholarship
  • Farrens Endowed Study Abroad Scholarship
  • Gary and Patricia Leiser Scholarship
  • Institute for Asian Studies Scholarship
  • Lorry I. Lokey Endowed Fund for Israel Scholarship
    • Deadline: Nov. 16
  • Peter & Christine Nickerson Scholarship for Asian Studies
    • Deadline: March 15
  • PSU Education Abroad Scholarship
  • Scan/Design Foundation Scholarship
    • Deadline: March 15
  • USAC Alliance Scholarship
    • Deadline: March 15
  • Waseda Oregon Scholarship

Short-term, Faculty-led Program Scholarships:

  • Ketcheson Scholars Award
  • Faculty-Led Program Travel Award
  • Deadline: March 15

Confucius Institute:

  • Confucius Institute/HSK Scholarship
  • Confucius China Studies Program
    • Joint Research Ph.D. Fellowship
    • Ph.D. in China Fellowship
    • Understanding China Fellowship
    • Young Leaders Fellowship
    • Publication Grant
    • International Conference Grant

U.S. Department of State:


  • Fulbright
  • Deadline: Sept. 2019 for 2020–21 fiscal year
  • Boren Scholarships
  • Deadline: Jan. 15
  • Critical Language Scholarship:
  • Deadline: Nov. 27
  • Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship
  • Summer/fall deadline: March 5


Program Provider


  • American University in Cairo Scholarships
  • Hermann F. Eilts International Scholarship
  • Simpson Scholarship in Egyptology
  • CIEE Programs Scholarships
  • Summer/fall Deadline: April 1
  • CIEE Global Institute Grant
  • Available for Open campus Berlin, London and Paris programs
  • GEO International Scholarships
  • IE3 Global Scholarship
  • Summer internship deadlines: Feb. 15
  • Summer study abroad deadline: March 15
  • Fall program deadline: May 1
  • IFSA-Butler Study Abroad Scholarships
  • Summer priority deadline: Feb. 1
  • Summer final deadline: April 1
  • Fall priority deadline: March 1
  • Fall final deadline: April 1
  • Semester at Sea Scholarships
  • SIT Study Abroad Scholarships
  • Summer deadline: April 1
  • Fall deadline: May 15
  • USAC Scholarships
  • Summer/fall deadline: March 15


Scholarships and Grants from Foundations and Organizations

  • BackPacker Co Scholarship
  • Bridging Scholarships for Study in Japan
  • Chinese Government Scholarship-Bilateral Program
  • Explore the World Scholarship
  • FACS Study in France Fellowship
  • Foundation for Global Scholars
  • Freeman Asia
    • Summer/fall/academic year applications open January 2019
  • Fund for Education Abroad
    • Summer/fall/academic year applications open Nov. 19
  • German Academic Exchange Service
  • Go! Study Abroad Scholarships!
  • GoEuro European Study Abroad Scholarship
  • GTOS Study Abroad Scholarships
    • Deadline: Dec. 30
  • HIF Scholarship in Hungary
  • International Research and Exchange Board
  • National Italian American Foundation Scholarship Program
    • Deadline: May 6
  • Phi Kappa Phi Study Abroad Grants
    • Deadline: March 15
  • Rainbow Sig
  • Scholarships for Asian/Pacific Islander Students
  • Toshizo Watanabe Study Abroad Scholarship Program
    • 2019–20 academic year: Applications open January 2019
  • Turkish Coalition of American Study Abroad Scholarships for Minority Students
  • Woodrow Wilson International Fellowship Foundation